The sense of accomplishment and pride from the time, money and energy spent establishing a new lawn for many homeowners is often lost within the first year of the lawns existence. This is often due to a few common mistakes made in the process from selecting the grass species to mowing and watering.
Select the proper grass.
Not all grasses meet all possible uses. If you feel inept in selecting the best species for your site, don’t hesitate contacting an expert for advice. Provide information such as geographic location, amount of shade, intended use of the lawn, and amount of maintenance input you plan to provide. Don’t scrimp on costs of initial establishment. The few dollars saved on inferior bargain sod or seed will usually cost you more in the long run.
Properly prepare the site before planting.
Take the time to have a soil analysis performed. It is much easier and less costly to adjust soil pH and provide the proper nutrients to the soil before planting. Site prep should include tillage and drainage considerations.
Select time of planting to optimize success.
Seed of warm season turf species such as bermudagrass, centipede, carpet grass, etc. have the greatest chance of success when planted from spring to midsummer. Cool season species, such as fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass, need to be planted in the fall only and their use may often be considered as temporary lawns only for much of the deep South. Most sod can be installed whenever it is available.
Maintain good cultural management practices.
It is critical to develop a sound lawn management regime to keep a newly established lawn healthy. This should include infrequent but deep watering whenever needed, mowing often enough to never remove more than one-third of the total leaf blade at a single mowing, periodic fertilization to maintain healthy turf, and pest prevention.
Extension publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” is recommended reading and a free copy can be obtained from your local Extension Service office.
Published July 25, 2011
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org